Isaiah 55: 1-5
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
A Place for You
I have to constantly remind myself, “There is a place for you within the Church.” A few years back I was entering a suburban Lutheran church for worship. I had never attended that church before. I didn’t know anyone, and I did little to no research. I only knew that close to where I was staying there was a Lutheran Church and service started at 9 am. As I made my trek in this seemly normal Sunday I was confronted with why I have the reminder: “There is a place for me.” As I arrived at the threshold a congregant informed me that this wasn’t the Baptist Church, and the Baptist Church was not located far away. I assume my dark melanin skin warranted this halt and questioning of my place within their space. I kindly informed the person I was aware that this was a Lutheran Church and I was indeed there for service. I took the bulletin and sat down repeating the mantra I learned to grasp close in times of adversity, “There is a place for you.”
While our experiences vary, feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty, trepidation, and unwelcomeness hit us all at points when we cross the threshold or sit in the pew. I am here to tell you, “There is a place for you within the folds of the Church.” The Church is not a set of independent buildings, but an assembly of ALL Gods People. The Church is a place for the people on the margins peering in. The Church is a place for the people whose identities don’t necessarily coincide with what is “normal”. The Church is a home for everyone with a fire and desire to walk through the doors.
A Place for All
The 55th chapter of Isaiah boldly invites everyone who is thirsty, hungry, and poor not only into the Church but to the waters of abundant life. This inclusive invitation is given to seemly normal people who come from all walks of life, whose hunger is deeper than the pits of their stomach, whose thirst cannot be quenched with mere water, and whose lack of riches is not monetary but spiritual. This invitation is extended to people regardless their color, sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status and political preference. The chapter is the covenant made between Christ and us. It is a display of God’s unyielding grace and compassion.
Jesus’s arms are outstretched for all who are weary, discouraged, broken, thirsty or in need of something more. There is a place for you even when we don’t think there is. The Church is made on the pillars of sinners, saints, believers, skeptics, and everyone in between. “There is a place for you,” because Christ is the place. Christ invites a shell of a person with their stuff, their baggage, and their brokenness. We are then called to carry our stuff to God and unload because then we are forgiven. Regardless of where we are in life, who we are, what we do, and how we act there is a place for you. You are perfectly imperfect and you are a child of God.
An Open Invitation
So, the next time you are confronted with difficulty, uneasiness, and doubt I want you to know that you do not stand alone. Behind you stands the Assembly of the Church, a kaleidoscope of hues and shapes that are the People of God. I want you to know that the doubt will pass with the waves of life and calm will prevail. I want you to know that nestled in the book of Isaiah there is an open invitation to come to worship God as you are. I want you to know that “There is a place for you.” Just as I found my place in that pew unapologetically so many years ago, I hope you find yours.
- What time have you felt that you did not belong? How did you handle it? Did you leave the situation?
- Where is God amidst this trial and tribulation?
- Where do you see your place within the Church?
- How can you tell others they are needed in the Church?
Blog author Ralen Robinson is a Seminary student at United Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia seeking a call to be an ordained minister. She is currently interning at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion and offering chaplaincy at major hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Ralen believes faith and a good pair of heels can take you a long way.